To me, this curry is one of favorites!
Probably not as known as some of the more famous coconut-based curries, jungle curry still deserves a spot in the Thai hall of fame of curries. Jungle curry ‘Gaeng Pa’ แกงป่า is a simple hunter-gatherers curry that relies on the finds made in the rural areas and especially forests of Thailand.
Vegetables like eggplant, bamboo shoots, and yardlong beans are commonly used. Wild forest mushrooms also perfectly complement this curry. A large number of chilies, wild ginger, makrut leaves, and holy basil give this curry its hot and distinct herbaceous and almost medicinal flavors. Thais would often prepare it with pork, wild boar, frogs, fish, or poultry as the main protein. In my plant-based version, those are obviously omitted while mushrooms and fermented organic soybean paste are added for depth of flavor.
Unlike many of the more famous Thai curries, this curry is prepared with no coconut milk rather with water or stock. It should be soupy and taste salty and quite spicy, especially in the absence of coconut milk to tone the heat down.
- Vegetable oil
- Sea salt
- Fermented bean paste
- Makrut lime leaves torn
- Grachai, sliced
- Thai green ‘apple eggplant’ sliced
- Bamboo shoots
- Yardlong beans cut into bite-size pieces
- Wood ear mushrooms, torn
- Pounded or sliced fresh red kee nu chilies, for extra spiciness – optional
- Holy basil leaves and flowers
- 20 dry red chilies
- Sea salt
- Makrut lime zest or leaves
- Holy basil flowers
1.Wash, slice, and pound the paste ingredients in a mortar and pestle, adding them one by one. Keep pounding until the herbs turn into a fine creamy paste and smell homogeneous.
2.Add a little bit of oil to a pot. Fry the curry paste and the fermented bean paste on medium heat for about a minute. Add the water and bring it to a boil. Taste and add salt to adjust to your liking.
3.Add the torn makrut lime leaves, grachai slices, and the fresh chili if you want it even spicier. Add the vegetables according to their cooking time. Start with the eggplants and bamboo shoots, then yardlong beans. Add the wood ear mushrooms towards the end of the cooking and lastly add the holy basil and stir it in for a few seconds before turning off the heat. Serve with white rice.